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Spring Forward : Interesting facts about Daylight Saving Time

Though you may feel a bit groggier this morning after losing that hour of sleep, at least you’ll know that you’re gaining an hour more of daylight. It also serves as a reminder that spring — and the longer days of summer — are around the corner.

Some have recently called for an end to DST, citing how it can cause sleep disruption and really serves no purpose.

Though it was originally proposed as a way of conserving energy a 2008 study in the U.S. showed that it may not necessarily be the case, finding there is a “tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling.”

Whether you love it or hate it, here are a few interesting facts on Daylight Saving Time (not Daylight Savings Time).

How it came to be

The concept of DST was first raised by entomologist George Hudson in 1895, who wanted more daylight hours to study insects.

It was raised again in 1905 by Englishman William Willett (the great-great-grandfather of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin) in 1905 who proposed it to Parliament, though lawmakers had yet to take to his idea when he died in 1915.


Germany was the first country to adopt DST, on April 30, 1916 — in the middle of the First World War — in an effort to conserve electricity. Just a few weeks later, the U.K. also adopted the practice. However, after the war ended so, largely, did use of DST.

There’s a lot of confusion about daylight saving time. Let’s sort it all out.

The first thing to know: Yes, it begins in the spring, just as the increase in daylight hours starts to become noticeable.

1) Why are we in daylight saving time now? Why do we need to “save” daylight in the spring?

Daylight saving time in the US started as an energy conservation trick during World War I and became a national standard in the 1960s. The idea is to shift the number of daylight hours we get into the evening. So if the sun sets at 8 pm instead of 7 pm, we’d presumably spend less time with the lights on in our homes at night, saving on electricity.

It also means that you’re less likely to sleep through daylight hours in the morning (since those are shifted an hour later too). Hence “saving” daylight hours for the most productive time of the day.

Overall: We agree, the name is kind of confusing.

2) Isn’t it “daylight savings time” not “daylight saving time”?

No, it’s definitely called “daylight saving time.” Not plural. Be sure to point out this common mistake to friends and acquaintances. You’ll be really popular.

3) Does it actually lead to energy savings?

As Joseph Stromberg outlined in an excellent 2015 Vox article, the presumed electricity conservation from the time change is unclear or nonexistent:

Despite the fact that daylight saving time was introduced to save fuel, there isn’t strong evidence that the current system actually reduces energy use — or that making it year-round would do so, either. Studies that evaluate the energy impact of DST are mixed. It seems to reduce lighting use (and thus electricity consumption) slightly but may increase heating and AC use, as well as gas consumption. It’s probably fair to say that energy-wise, it’s a wash.

Benjamin Franklin?

You may have heard that Benjamin Franklin first introduced the concept of DST, but that’s not entirely true.

In a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris in 1784, Franklin suggested that Parisians could save on candles by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning. The only thing was, he was joking.

Benjamin Franklin

Is daylight saving time dangerous?

A bit. When we shift clocks forward one hour, many of us will lose that hour of sleep. In the days after daylight saving time starts, our biological clocks are a little bit off. It’s like the whole country has been given one hour of jet lag.

One hour of lost sleep sounds like a small change, but we humans are fragile, sensitive animals. Small disruptions in our sleep have been shown to alter basic indicators of our health and dull our mental edge.

And when our biological clocks are off, everything about us is out of sync. Our bodies run this tight schedule to try to keep up with our actions. Since we usually eat a meal after waking up, we produce the most insulin in the morning. We’re primed to metabolize breakfast before even taking a bite. It’s more efficient that way.

(There’s some good research that finds taking over-the-counter melatonin helps reset our body clocks to a new time. Read more about that here).

Being an hour off schedule means our bodies are not prepared for the actions we partake in at any time of the day. One example: driving.

In 1999, researchers at Johns Hopkins and Stanford universities wanted to find out what happens on the road when millions of drivers have their sleep disrupted.

Analyzing 21 years of fatal car crash data from the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, they found a very small, but significant, increase in road deaths on the Monday after the clock shift in the spring: The number of deadly accidents jumped to an average of 83.5 on the “spring forward” Monday compared with an average of 78.2 on a typical Monday.

And it seems it’s not just car accidents. Evidence has also mounted of an increase in incidences of workplace injuries and heart attacks in the days after we spring forward.

HOW ABOUT WE STOP switching and simply stay?

In 2015, Stromberg made the compelling case that the daylight saving time shift into the evening should be extended year-round. Having more light later could benefit us in a surprising number of ways:

• People engage in more leisure activities after work than beforehand, so we’d likely do more physical activity over sedentary leisure activities. Relatedly, studies show that kids get more exercise when the sun is out later in the evening.

• Stromberg also cites some evidence that robberies decrease when there’s more sun in the evening hours.

• There could be economic gains, since people “take short trips, and buy things after work — but not before — so a longer DST slightly increases sales,” Stromberg writes.

The rest of the world

According to, less than 40 per cent of countries around the world follow DST. China and India don’t follow it, and Russia dropped it in 2014.

Now go take a nap. (We recommend about an hour or more:-)

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